Skills for persuasion are critical in any role. Pre-sales requires working with customers in various points of their decision making. This hence becomes an even more critical skill as you are working against time.
I had once named an internal project Aurora, that got reasonable attention. Most people were curious to know what it would do for them. It gave me the opportunity to engage and explain the unique proposition. For those that found it useful I got the some great adoption. From others I got some great feedback. The feedback was in one of two categories. Either a new feature request or a different way to present another perspective
Persuasion is the effort we make to shape or shift others attitudes, beliefs and behaviour to show our perspective. Engagement becomes the vehicle that we then use to deliver the persuasive POV. If your users are not highly engaged in a conversation they miss the key message you are trying to deliver.
Getting a high degree of engagement, requires starting with a clear message. Making it clear that they will hear next - is important, relevant and addresses their here and now, works best . Also audiences tend to pay more attention if they know - you will be seeking their opinion or asking questions along the way. Delivering your message while addressing the audience by their first name gets not only the individuals to stay engaged but also others as well; just in case they get called upon too.
Landing a strong argument with an engaged audience then becomes relatively easier. After you have delivered you key messages; You really have folks who would sit in either of the two buckets. People who are on the same side as you. In which case they need to hear - from you - how many other people have had a similar opinion. This helps them with the required social validation. For folks who are not quite bought in - its worth taking a pro-attitude to the objections. Helping them see that you are on the same side of their objection but quite that far out in agreement. It helps them be less defensive and be open to a generally agreeable conversation.
Moving the mental position of your audience is not a zero sum game. Baby steps in shifting their position usually works best. Engagement based on listening, sharing a different perspective opens for a dialogue. It help with further softening of their current stance.
The post’s title had ‘Influence’ in it as well. I wanted to leave you with a thought on that - Persuasive skills are critical, no doubt. But like all good things that take time - inspire people to choose the right course of action and then to take action. You do that by influencing your audience about the optimal vision of an outcome . That would then inspire them to take action and own their decisions - which persuasion alone can’t.